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All student debt in the US, visualized

Who exactly would benefit if we canceled all this debt?

Americans hold an astounding amount of student debt: $1.6 trillion. It’s a number that has been increasing exponentially over the past several decades.

This is why Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have ambitious plans to cancel debt. Sanders wants to cancel all of it; Warren wants to cancel all debt for households earning under $100,000 a year — and, above that, phase out the amount of debt canceled until a household reaches $250,000.

For both Sanders and Warren, debt cancellation is part of a larger plan to make public college free. Paying for college wasn’t as big of a problem for Americans who went to school before the 1990s. But in recent decades, the cost of college has skyrocketed.

College costs have gone from $10,000 in 1980 to more than $20,000 in the 2010s.

In turn, the amount of loans students take out has also increased:

The average loan was less than $2,500 in 1980 and is now more than $7,500.

Both Warren and Sanders argue that our economy has made a college degree necessary, so these huge debts essentially become the cost of entering the middle class.

But even progressives have concerns about a one-time cancellation of all student debt. That’s because this $1.6 trillion infusion doesn’t exactly go to help people who need it most.

In the video above, I visualize all the student debt in America — and figure out who would benefit from debt cancellation.

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